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August 03, 2007

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Bizarro World is on the case!

Not sure what I think about Scott Thomas, but as numerous people have pointed out, it's a little weird getting this worked up over his stories when there are much worse stories that have come out of Iraq. I'm a little bemused by the claim that anything bad in Iraq done by our guys would immediately be noticed by superior officers and punished.

Here's one story that's much more important and a lot more shocking than Thomas's anecdotes--

Pentagon poll

Oh, I know the answer to that one. It's that damned godless secularism that has infected the troops because the liberals prevent the spreading of the Good Word to them.
(Hey, if it explains Abu Ghraib...)
[/snark]

Zogby says: 3% (yes, three percent) of Americans approve of Congress' handling of the war.

3.

Donald, that survey was conducted by the US Army, and everyone knows they're a bunch of anti-American troop haters -- probably partisan Democrats with a book to sell as well, and mentally ill, with strange personal habits. That's assuming they even exist.

I'm bemused by the outrage over what I think is a non-existent indictment of the Army, GWB and this particular war in the TNR story. I thought the point of the story was to illustrate the effects of war in general on the behavior of soldiers. A new(?) disorder is, um, in order - OA: Outrage Addiction.

Since this is an open thread, I wanted to share an old e-mail I sent to a friend of mine a couple of years ago. I find it to be very amusing, so maybe some of you will too. It is Friday, you know.

I had a dream last night that I was Superman and I had flown into outer space. I was talking to you on a cell phone from outer space. I had one of those glowing plastic cubes that you can put in drinks. I don't know if you've ever seen them, but they're like fake ice cubes with I don't know what inside them that makes them glow if you whack them on the surface of a table or something. Anyway, because I had this glowing cube with me, you were able to see me in outer space. Makes perfect sense, right? I was doing flips and spin moves that we somehow understood to be mocking of George Bush and found to be extremely hilarious. After a round of belly laughs over my George-Bush-mocking antics in outer space, I had to return to Earth. I had to plan my reentry to avoid overheating as I entered the atmosphere. Why Superman would have to bother with that I don't know. When I returned to Earth, I landed outside what was supposed to be Independence Hall. I entered Independence Hall to find that it was 1776 and the founding fathers were all there. Apparently, Thomas Jefferson and Superman were close friends, so I exchanged some heart-felt words with TJ until it was time for Superman to leave the Colonial Period, never to return. Jefferson and Superman kept their emotions in check as they said their final goodbyes. At this point, I was no longer Superman, but was only playing Superman in M. Night Shyamalan's new movie. As Superman was leaving, I somehow was no longer playing Superman, but playing Thomas Jefferson. I then began thinking what a stupid scene this was and how corny the deep feelings of friendship between Supe and TJ were and had to keep myself from laughing. The shooting of the scene ended and I was talking to one of the other actors, telling him how I felt about the scene and that it must have been obvious that I was trying not to laugh. I was thinking that I may have ruined M. Night's new movie. The other actor said he had felt the same way in his scene. We then speculated that the movie was actually a comedy, and that we were supposed to be acting that way.

We've come a long way when John Cole is a homophobic liberal.

Ok, that's enough Bizarro World linking for one day for me.

A new(?) disorder is, um, in order - OA: Outrage Addiction

outrage is the fuel for the political blogoshpere. harnessing the energy that it generates takes skill, but generating the energy is trivial: you simply feed lies to the ignorant, of which there is an endless supply.

Hey, OCSteve, are you going to withdraw your criticisms of Beauchamp now? Or are you shooting for an accountability-free moment?

Everything points to a less than happy soldier, who wants to be a writer, who has indicated he’s there only to be able to claim that legitimacy later in life. Then he gets a chance to be published. The day to day stuff he has to deal with is probably mind-numbingly boring and wouldn’t make very good copy. So he seems to be taking incidents that have a basis in reality but embellishing them a bit.

Besides the mind reading (Karnak award!), and the easy and casual denigration for another soldier's service, I find it amusing how quick you are to accuse someone of lying. Now that you've besmirched their character, are you going to do the decent thing and admit that you were wrong? Are you going to admit that you are the kind of person who goes off and accuses people of lying with little or no evidence?


And if they did then that represented a huge breakdown in leadership that needed to be investigated and rectified...if these accounts were true it represented a grave failure in leadership that had to be set right.

OK, now that those accounts were shown be true, do you now believe that the US Army leadership in Iraq is in crisis? Are you now any less willing to trust your gut feelings about what is happening in Iraq, given how poorly those intuitions have served you so far?

I'm really not trying to be a jerk, but it is starting to irritate me how otherwise decent people can casually malign and insult some just to score political points. Like, you know, climatologists that are friends of mine. Apparently they're all idiots or liars, at least that's what some dude at hocb.net says.

Reading the latest of Ugh's Bizarro World links reminded me of something I used to wonder about and that was the ideological right's focus* on what and what isn't actually "conservative" and who or who isn't a real conservative.

It's still a wonder.

-------------------
Back in usenet days I noticed the same thing about the ideological left.

THE SURGE IS WORKING!

Video: Inside the surge, Part One

Turbulence: Hey, OCSteve, are you going to withdraw your criticisms of Beauchamp now? Or are you shooting for an accountability-free moment?

I’m not really following you. Are you claiming that TNR’s latest is some kind of vindication? I really didn't intend to get into this today, but as you are calling me out by name…

They say the conversation occurred at Camp Buehring, in Kuwait, prior to the unit's arrival in Iraq. When presented with this important discrepancy, Beauchamp acknowledged his error. We sincerely regret this mistake.

Mistake? The entire narrative was the dehumanizing impact of war. Here’s this poor kid, telling us in his own words how the horrors of combat had hardened his soul and made him question his humanity. The problem is that if it happened, it happened in a staging area in Kuwait before he ever deployed into Iraq. This is being claimed as vindication? Fake but accurate? Everything else is attributed to anonymous sources and BTW we’re going on vacation now.

My previous: So he seems to be taking incidents that have a basis in reality but embellishing them a bit.

How was I wrong here? He took an incident that (may have) had a basis in reality, and embellished it quite a bit. A staging area in Kuwait is not a FOB in Iraq. The entire idea of putting it in Iraq and much later in time is to support the entire “dehumanization” narrative. How does that not qualify as embellishment?

Sorry TNR:

After a thorough investigation that lasted nearly a week the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division has concluded that the allegation made by Private Thomas Scott Beauchamp, the "Baghdad Diarist", have been "refuted by members of his platoon and proven to be false".

Now is everyone on that other thread who agreed with certainty that the Army’s officers and NCOs would in fact tolerate and ignore this kind of behavior going to step up and recant?

I don’t think it would really be productive for me to respond to the rest of your comment.

He took an incident that (may have) had a basis in reality, and embellished it quite a bit.

so, there was no woman, she wasn't injured even if there was, and she definitely wasn't injured as a result of a war (this war, the one we started). and that proves his point that "war is hell" is nonsense. right ?

Was this his first tour in Iraq?

Was this his first tour in Iraq?

i think so.

b.t.w., the latest smear: Beauchamp has... wait for it.... teh ghee (link to Ace, if your up for it)

OCSteve, As stunned as I am to see you cite Matt Sanchez, I've got to ask a question.

Is Matt Sanchez in Iraq? And have you ever met him?

I mean, given your proclivity to question anyone who writes something that disturbs you, shouldn't you consider the possibility that Matt Sanchez is blowing smoke up your arse?

Like a Kabuki story, though, you can already see how this is going to play out….Eventually some small part of Thomas’s account will turn out to be slightly exaggerated and the right will erupt in righteous fervor. They were right all along! Thomas did make up his stories! The left does hate the troops!

Kevin Drum is certainly looking like Karnak this morning.

Beauchamp has... wait for it.... teh ghee (link to Ace, if your up for it)

I eagerly await Jeff Emanuel and Moe Lane's denunciation of Ace.

I eagerly await...

Don't hold your breathe.

Is it my perception, or is an entire segment of the rightwingosphere circling the drain at supersonic speed these days?

"breathe" == "breath" above

Jeebus, someotherdude, how about a warning to go along with that link?

The Kuwait instead of Iraq problem is a legitimate point, if it shoots down Thomas's claim that the horrors of war made him act like a jerk.

Again, though, this whole issue is bizarre. The NATION just published a long article filled with much more serious allegations than what Thomas has claimed to have seen, and you'd think that would be the story that people would be trying to refute. And then there's the Pentagon poll I cited above, which shows that the majority of US troops over there are comfortable with violations of human rights. As KC says, it's a little harder to dismiss the Pentagon as nonexistent or biased against the troops.

If the CIA can be painted as a hothouse of rampant liberalism, the Pentagon should pose no problem.

"Now that you've besmirched their character, are you going to do the decent thing and admit that you were wrong? Are you going to admit that you are the kind of person who goes off and accuses people of lying with little or no evidence?"

If we're giving lectures on doing the "decent thing," I will note that I have not observed that it would be a "decent thing" to go bang on the door of a neighbor's home some morning, and demand to know if they've read the day's newspapers, and if they've therefore retracted that thing they said last week that I didn't like, because that was a pretty stupid thing, so do you retract it, huh, do you, huh, what about it, guy!?

Generally speaking, harassing people and demanding they provide answers to questions in conversations they're not even in at the time, is not something I see frequently lauded as the "decent thing" to do. YMMV.

I think Andrew Sullivan sums this whole issue up neatly:

The skull episode is borne out by other witnesses. The dog-baiting is completely credible. Here's a YouTube of some soldiers tormenting a wounded dog. Here's another of soldiers taunting thirsty Iraqi kids with water bottles. The incidents are gross, but in a war-zone, they're hardly something to be shocked, shocked at. Am I now slandering every soldier by linking to them? Of course not. Is TNR slandering every soldier because one soldier writes up some ugly episodes that are also self-criticism? Please. No one doubts that most of the troops are doing an amazing job in near-impossible conditions. Describing some bad apples and occasional crudeness - especially when you are criticizing yourself as well - is utterly banal.

Barnett calls the TNR statement "maddening". If you're wedded to the belief that the stories were fabricated, then it must be. It's no fun to have accused a writer and his editors of wilfull malfeasance only to discover you have no real basis for it, except your own insecurities and hatreds.

One can imagine Stalin-era party hacks getting as worked up over someone suggesting that the chocolate ration had decreased rather than increased.

cleek: so, there was no woman, she wasn't injured even if there was, and she definitely wasn't injured as a result of a war

Still unknown. The PAO in Kuwait says she has not found anyone to back it up and “Right now it is considered to be a Urban Legend or Myth.”

But I said it may have happened, but that the anecdote was (now IMO) embellished quite a bit. I mean, was it his time in Germany or the long flight to Kuwait that caused him to question his humanity? We were certainly supposed to take away the point that it was the horrors of combat in Iraq that led him to that was it not? Might he and a buddy have mocked a disfigured woman in Kuwait, prior to ever seeing Iraq or even being issued live ammunition? Sure. But what does that have to do with the Iraq war and the entire narrative of those anecdotes (other than the reason he was in Kuwait was of course the war).


Davebo: Is Matt Sanchez in Iraq? And have you ever met him?

Sanchez has been in Iraq at FOB Falcon for a while. He’s embedded before. He’s an ex-Marine. He put up what appears to be an official statement. If he is inventing words for PAO Sergeant First Class Robert Timmons I’m sure we’ll hear about it.

Why on earth would you be “stunned” to see me cite Sanchez? (I mean I suspect why but I’ll be stunned if you want to go there.)

"I mean, given your proclivity to question anyone who writes something that disturbs you,"

This is a trait unusual to OCSteve? Since when?

I have to say that I find it quite repulsive that this dumbass non-issue got hauled out for discussion in the first place -- basically, when you do that, you ask for this sort of pointless nonsense -- but I find it far more repulsive that some folks seem to feel that OCSteve is the Designated Volunteer Punching Bag Stand-in who should have personal attacks launched on his integrity when he hadn't even commented on the thread, but apparently simply because he has the gall to hang around here and sometimes say some things that aren't a product of the group mind.

Launching attacks on people for stuff said elsewhere is appropriate how? Should we all start launching attacks here on people for stuff they've said on other blogs? Is that the new approach to the posting rules warning on personal attacks?

Jimminy Cricket on a stick, have people no actual decency, and no sense of appropriate behavior? Is it because Hilzoy is away?

"Right now it is considered to be a Urban Legend or Myth.”

Rule of thumb: if a person can't reliably distinguish when to use capital letters appropriately, they can't reliably distinguish what's fact and what isn't.

Okay, it's an imperfect guideline, but it fits my prejudices. :-)

More seriously, military PAO says there's nothing to see here, move along, is a dog bites man; it's only news if it goes in the other direction. Ditto that when soldiers are called on the carpet to report on who exactly violated regulations, they might possibly deny having seen any such violation, sir!

But maybe it is all made up.

Why anyone cares about what a single soldier wrote and claimed were a couple of anecdotes, then, I have absolutely no idea. True, false, 100% made up: what the hell does it matter to anyone?

So far as I can see, there's no content here: it's just a pointless food fight. The worst possible conclusion would be that TNR made an error in judgement. Again. So what? Who gives a flying eff? It wouldn't change the wisdom or stupidity of anything else they publish one iota. Wanna doubt TNR's credibility further in general after this? Fine. But what's the point of the argument?

...when he hadn't even commented on the thread...

While I see where you're coming from and generally agree with the intent, I think that callout is in reference to this thread where OCSteve commented quite a bit.

I have investigated the allegations of wrongdoing against me and I have found them to be unfounded.

When so many minor points don’t mesh you think that it is all BS, at least it is all suspect.

Launching attacks on people for stuff said elsewhere is appropriate how? Should we all start launching attacks here on people for stuff they've said on other blogs?

OCSteve did say stuff on this subject on this blog, in a different topic. If somebody wanted to challenge his opinion it would have made sense to do it there, except it's cycled off the front page and it's back in the July archives where most people might miss it.

I don't have a strong opinion about the etiquette involved, but at least it wasn't just about other blogs or challenging OCSteve for what other people wrote.

Gary, as long as we're talking about launching attacks on people who don't deserve it, it appears to me that exactly one person launched attacks on OCSteve when he hadn't commented. Once he had commented, then surely people are free to respond to what he says without being accused of having at last no sense of decency and treated to rants about how the whole site has gone to pot since Hilzoy's away, complete with an invocation of the "group mind". And even more surely, those of us who had nothing to do with the interaction don't deserve that sort of thing.

So far as I can see, there's no content here: it's just a pointless food fight.

I agree. It looks like a bunch of wingnuts mostly arguing among themselves. It reminds me of the scene in Life of Brian where the People's Front of Judea and the Judean People's Front and the Front for the Judean People are arguing about who's the real liberators while the roman soldiers look sideways at each other and shrug.

It gives me the impression that the moderates haven't been doing their job. Surely there are some real controversies available, that would actually mean something. Why isn't anybody waving them like red flags before the bulls to get them off this idiocy?

I don't think the pentagon poll would do it, though.

More than one-third of U.S. soldiers in Iraq surveyed by the Army said they believe torture should be allowed if it helps gather important information about insurgents, the Pentagon disclosed Friday. Four in 10 said they approve of such illegal abuse if it would save the life of a fellow soldier.

In addition, about two-thirds of Marines and half the Army troops surveyed said they would not report a team member for mistreating a civilian or for destroying civilian property unnecessarily. "Less than half of Soldiers and Marines believed that non-combatants should be treated with dignity and respect," the report stated.

How many on the redstate blogs would agree with this? 90%? 99%? No scandal here except how many liberal wimps there are in our army. 60% said they wouldn't approve of torture of terrorists even if it saved the lives of fellow soldiers? They must not understand war or something.

Surely there are some real controversies available, that would actually mean something. Why isn't anybody waving them like red flags before the bulls to get them off this idiocy?

they probably haven't picked-up on the whole fracas in da house yet - lots of of opportunity for manufactured outrage there.

"If somebody wanted to challenge his opinion it would have made sense to do it there, except it's cycled off the front page and it's back in the July archives where most people might miss it."

Which is why it's appropriate to either bring up politely in an open thread, or to wait until a new relevant comment is made to disagree with.

Otherwise, if all past comments on all past threads, just here alone, let alone on other blogs, mean we can keep reopening old topics with new personal attacks, then ObWi becomes a forum for never-ending personal attack over an always expanding range of past opinions, with no statute of limitations.

Hey, why not bring up something von said from 2003? It's still wrong!

Regardless of what was said when, these are still supposed to be rules: "Be reasonably civil."

"Do not consistently abuse or vilify other posters for its own sake."

Bringing up comments of someone from a past thread, when that person hasn't even commented in this one, can be done in a polite fashion. This wasn't.

And that makes it "abus[ing] or vilify[ing] other posters for its own sake."

Because you're mad. Because they said something stupid. So that justifies saying something mad back.

And around we go.

And this wasn't even about this blog:

I'm really not trying to be a jerk, but it is starting to irritate me how otherwise decent people can casually malign and insult some just to score political points. Like, you know, climatologists that are friends of mine. Apparently they're all idiots or liars, at least that's what some dude at hocb.net says.
If someone writes something you don't like on another blog, deal with it on that blog.

Or, if we've changed the rules, I can easily enter a few tens of thousands of words here on what I don't like about things people have posted on other blogs. We all could! How useful that would be.

(General suggestion: when one starts to feel that one should disclaim being a jerk, it's a good time to pause and consider deleting without posting.)

I'd also take this to be a paraphrase: "[a]pparently they're all idiots or liars." But if it isn't a direct quote, then one could equally accuse the writer of lying.

Which is why using that sort of language isn't helpful. The claim is defensible -- but inflamnatory and escalating and pointlessly offensive.

Issues. Talk issues. Not, "hey, you jerk, how can you say something so stupid?" statements whose topic is the characteristics of a commenter here.

We can talk personalities, or issues. Talking about personalities here impolitely is a violation of the posting rules. It's not actually a choice.

(Disclaimer: I don't speak for the blog, I'm just another commenter, blahblah.)

Which is why it's appropriate to either bring up politely in an open thread, or to wait until a new relevant comment is made to disagree with.

As this is an open thread devoted to the issue at hand, I think that may be amended to "bring it up politely," which is always good advice when attempting to discuss rather than simply flaming.

Well I’m not sure about the whole etiquette thing either, but when someone says “Are you going to withdraw your comment from last week OR are you shooting for an accountability-free moment?” what’s left but to respond, even if you had no intention of spending any more time on that particular issue? I dislike questions/challenges put that way for just that reason. I certainly wouldn’t want it to be assumed that I was avoiding addressing the question just because I didn’t happen to see this thread. So I would just suggest asking a little differently: “If you happen to see this comment I’d be curious to know if this new evidence changes your opinion at all.” – or something similar.

I’m with Gary on dragging in unrelated conversations from other blogs. I mean Tio is meant to be an overflow valve for this place. When frustrations over there spill back over here then it kind of defeats the purpose.

Finally, I have no problem with retracting comments, apologizing for inappropriate comments, or eating crow when it’s deserved. I’ve done so many times right on this blog. I just don’t see the need in this case. The worst I said is that I suspected he was taking incidents with a basis in reality but embellishing them to fit a narrative. IMO TNR’s latest confirms that – so I see no need to withdraw the comment.

From Balloon Juice's comment section:

Of course you can not believe “Scott Thomas” “Beauchamp” about the story about him laughing at a deformed woman. Our brave soldiers would not do that. Of course Beauchamp said that his friend and him laughed at her and that is believable as they aren ot brave soldiers at all Beauchamp admits that he laughs at disfigured people and how can you believe a story told by somebody who admits that he laughs at disfigured people? So he probably laughed at her because he is that sort of person but nobody else did and even though he did not say that they did that is what he meant but they did not do that she does not even exist. Beauchamp says she did but how can you believe him he admits he laughed at her and a person who would do that would do anything?
If nothing else, this bizarre feeding frenzy among the loon crew is bringing forth some fine mockery.

Gary,

As others have indicated, you have your facts wrong. This is an open thread. The original post describes new information relating to the Beauchamp issue. OCSteve has made a significant contribution to the most recent thread about Beauchamp on this blog. Yes, this blog. No, really, it was this blog.

While we all make mistakes (myself more than most), I think it would have been good if you familiarized yourself with the most basic facts before you launched into an outright flame.

Also, for the record, I have not launched an attack" on OCSteve, and I certainly have not banged on his front door at night (!). You see, the
internet is different from the real world.


OCSteve,

I figured there was a 50/50 chance that you would read this thread. On the off chance that you didn't read it, I did not intend to imply anything untoward about you. You have a job and a life, and I'm pretty sure your job doesn't involve me paying you to respond to random things I write on the internet (if it does, please let me know as I've no doubt failed to pay you this month...or ever).

I no doubt should have avoided using the word hocb.net. I was too lazy to dig into the recent archives for OW threads in which, I believe I've
seen you make the same complaint about global warming researchers. I think Beauchamp illustrates a common (and depressing) phenomona amongs
more conservative folk: "I don't like what FOO is saying, so I'm going to trash their character". OCSteve, despite his (many) other virtues,
has done this with Beauchamp and has done this with global warming researchers. Mind you, I'm not objecting to claims that these people are wrong, but I am objecting to this bizarre idea that you can make very serious charges about people's character or competence and then walk away from it.

I'm traveling today (actually starting now) so I probably won't be able to comment again until tomorrow. My apologies in advance for my absence.

Also, for the record, I have not launched an attack" on OCSteve...

Yeah, you did. Your tone was provocative and, I would say, bordering on rude in a comment directed to a relatively long-time and respected commenter here. The posting rules clearly say "be civil." I don't think that "Or are you shooting for an accountability-free moment?" is civil or designed to elicit any kind of meaningful dialog.

Other than that, asking OCS if he had changed his (or her) mind is certainly fair game, but the tone was free of civility, IMO.

I’ve done so many times right on this blog.

Yes, but have you ever done so left on this blog? [grin]

I rarely agree with you (or Sebastian) but I applaud you (and him) for stating your case clearly and without rancor.

If I read the NR addedendum correctly, it says that one incident of the three occured in Kuwait. It's hard to see how an incident involving a "Saddam-era cemetary", or killing dogs with Bradleys would occur outside of Iraq.

Other than that, asking OCS if he had changed his (or her) mind is certainly fair game, but the tone was free of civility, IMO.

For what it's worth, that was my reaction as well.

Cueing up the Obsidian Wings hive mind...

"Also, for the record, I have not launched an [']attack['] on OCSteve,"

Opinions vary on that. To be sure, harsh words are frequently exchanged here, but absent an exchange, any and all initiations of harsh words on another may be regarded as "launching an attack," if they come without any regard for the fact that the person hasn't said a word up until then in the thread.

As in this case.

Similarly, if I suddenly took the opportunity to start in here on something Charles Bird once said, it would be a gratuitous attack in the context of this thread, where he is not yet, at best, present.

It would be, in fact, "launching an attack."

"and I certainly have not banged on his front door at night (!). You see, the internet is different from the real world."

You see, that was a metaphor.

Followed by "I did not intend"; "I'm pretty sure your job doesn't involve me paying you"; "I no doubt should have avoided"; "I was too lazy...." Etc.

Nice of you to apologize and correct yourself so many times after you didn't attack OCSteve. And actually good of you to apologize, even with the defensive denial that you did anything worth apologizing for, which you obviously don't believe.

"I no doubt should have avoided using the word hocb.net."

No, it's the ranting on one blog about stuff said on another that should be avoided unless otherwise appropriate. The actual specific words matter not.

Turbulence: I think Beauchamp illustrates a common (and depressing) phenomona amongs more conservative folk: "I don't like what FOO is saying, so I'm going to trash their character". OCSteve, despite his (many) other virtues, has done this with Beauchamp and has done this with global warming researchers. Mind you, I'm not objecting to claims that these people are wrong, but I am objecting to this bizarre idea that you can make very serious charges about people's character or competence and then walk away from it.

I’m not really sure how to respond to this. With Beauchamp I guess I could understand that stance if I was the main driver behind the whole thing. I mean if it was me first out the gate crying “this guy is a liar”. Heck I wasn’t even the first to comment on the story here. After the story was around for a while, after I had read quite a bit about it on the milblogs, after a post went up here and after a lot of other people commented on it, I chimed in. Because I agree with the milbloggers, does that mean I should refrain from commenting on the story because if I do I’m guilty about making serious charges about Beauchamp’s character? Isn’t that pretty much what we do here? With most of the issues we discuss here, isn’t someone’s character or competence usually the core issue at stake?

BTW – I appreciate the support of all you appeasing, military hating, dhimmi, traitorous lefties ;)

Gary, somehow when you support me I feel like I’m in an episode of the Twilight Zone. I’m so used to arguing with you that I don’t know how to deal with it when you support me. I can’t be sure if you are right or I am wrong. ;)

Turbulence: I’ll think on what you have said. I didn’t take this as an attack; I just disagree with the format that kind of makes me have to respond. I really didn’t have time today.

I'm pretty sure your job doesn't involve me paying you to respond to random things I write on the internet (if it does, please let me know as I've no doubt failed to pay you this month...or ever).

I’ll settle for a beer should I ever get to meet you. Previously I think we got along OK. I think I set you off at Tio and I have not even gotten back there in the last day or so. I’ll try to do that.

OCSteve: Mistake? The entire narrative was the dehumanizing impact of war. Here’s this poor kid, telling us in his own words how the horrors of combat had hardened his soul and made him question his humanity. The problem is that if it happened, it happened in a staging area in Kuwait before he ever deployed into Iraq. This is being claimed as vindication? Fake but accurate? Everything else is attributed to anonymous sources and BTW we’re going on vacation now.

I don't have a subscription to TNR, so I can only read excerpts, but is Beauchamp talking about the psychological effects of combat stress in particular, or is he talking about the psychological effects of wartime military life? I've never been through the experience personally, but I would have to think that being handed a weapon, shipped to a very alien land, and given as close to absolute power over the indigenous population as you are ever likely to have over anything in your life surely must have some profound effects on the human psyche, and these effects aren't likely limited to time spent on the front lines.

Anyway, this is the lens through which I read the excerpts, and this is why his misremembering the location of the incident with the disfigured woman doesn't strike me as particularly damning. Does the full article paint a different picture?

And, for what it's worth, I thought Turbulence could have been a bit less confrontational, as well.

"Gary, somehow when you support me I feel like I’m in an episode of the Twilight Zone. I’m so used to arguing with you that I don’t know how to deal with it when you support me. I can’t be sure if you are right or I am wrong. ;)"

You're welcome.

Also, everything OCSteve said at 05:14 PM is perfectly sensible and valid and on point.

Speaking vaguely seriously, I don't know why OCSteve should be surprised at my supporting him. I've spent plenty of time here disagreeing with/"attacking" points made by Hilzoy and Edward, my "fellow liberals" (really, ask them if they've ever felt I've laid off on them; hell, I've occasionally wondered how much responsibility I might bear for driving Edward off), and at times defending points by Sebastian, Charles, Von, Slarti, and Andrew, despite my clear liberal predilections.

I have clear political preferences/beliefs, but those include trying to speak to ideas over some sort of pointless tribalism.

Of course, I prefer to believe that that's a liberal notion.

I have clear political preferences/beliefs, but those include trying to speak to ideas over some sort of pointless tribalism.

Indeed. This is why conservatives suck and lefties rule. We don't do that.

Oops, Gary already made that joke in a more subtle fashion.

"Oops, Gary already made that joke in a more subtle fashion."

Yes, but since nobody has ever recognized me as making a subtle joke ever, I not only forgive you, but I'm wondering which of your relations I should be asking to marry.

I have two question relating to the previous comments in this thread, and I want them answered now!

First, OCSteve: What do the 'O' and the 'C' stand for? Does it mean you're posting from behind the dreaded Orange Curtain?

Second, Gary Farber: What the hell did Jimminy Cricket ever do to you that warranted you putting him on a stick? Is this some new devious Abu Ghraib interrogation, Disney style?

Gary, somehow when you support me I feel like I’m in an episode of the Twilight Zone. I’m so used to arguing with you that I don’t know how to deal with it when you support me. I can’t be sure if you are right or I am wrong. ;)

I didn't think he was defending you, I thought he was attacking Turbulent.

Is this "the attacker of my attacker is my defender"?

My answer is that italics stop now.

Wave hands.

Carry on speaking now, mortals.

Anyway, this is the lens through which I read the excerpts, and this is why his misremembering the location of the incident with the disfigured woman doesn't strike me as particularly damning.

I don't think he made the whole thing up, but it sure seems to me like he tried to blame it on wartime stress when it was more about him being an ass, plain and simple. I don't want to judge too harshly, but that's the way I lean.

"Second, Gary Farber: What the hell did Jimminy Cricket ever do to you that warranted you putting him on a stick?"

Stood up for conscience before I was even young enough to notice?

We only had a black and white tv in those days, to be sure.

"Is this some new devious Abu Ghraib interrogation, Disney style?"

Cory is whom you want to speak to about Disney. I've only paid one visit during one day, although, to be sure, I'd be happy to spend longer roaming around in one of the parks, given ability to afford that.

Steve: I don't think he made the whole thing up, but it sure seems to me like he tried to blame it on wartime stress when it was more about him being an ass, plain and simple. I don't want to judge too harshly, but that's the way I lean.

From what I have read of his original piece, Beauchamp himself considers this a possibility (he asks "Am I a monster?"). I don't have much in the way of an opinion on the matter. I'm more interested in knowing if he implied that he was suffering from combat stress at the time, or if that is something that has been read into his piece by others.

Just how many open italics tags are there?

"...I'd be happy to spend longer roaming around in one of the parks, given ability to afford that."

Since this is an open thread:

The last (or second) time I visited Disneyworld (it that one word or two?), the thought occurred to me that it might be the greatest place to be tripping on acid or mushrooms or whatever else one might trip on simply because everything is so perfect. There would seemingly be nothing to disturb the psyche in such an environment. But now I'm not so sure that the perfection wouldn't be disturbing in and of itself. Running around ratty, urban landscapes in altered states proved quite satisfying when I was able and inclined toward such things. Then again, maybe I should keep this sort of thing to myself, unless someone would care to share a thought.

"Then again, maybe I should keep this sort of thing to myself, unless someone would care to share a thought."

I did take a major acid trip in the Hotel Fontainebleau in 1977, at the end of the World SF Con, if that counts.

Long story. Keith Laumer tried to hit me with his cane. Busy con. I ran too many things. Great old hotel. None of which had much to do with either acid or Disney, though.

The long drive before the 1976 Worldcon with Madman Riley, who kept offering me mushrooms, some of which I accepted, was another story yet. But I mention only if you want validation for talking about that sort of thing. I'm also very fond of Richard Linklater's Dazed and Confused, despite my going to Hudde Jr. High, and Midwood High School in Brooklyn, in the early Seventies, because it was pretty close, anyhoo.

Gromit: is Beauchamp talking about the psychological effects of combat stress in particular, or is he talking about the psychological effects of wartime military life?

In his original articles, he specified Iraq; he made it sound as if it all happened in Iraq in the context of combat stress. My take anyway…

Anyway, this is the lens through which I read the excerpts, and this is why his misremembering the location of the incident with the disfigured woman doesn't strike me as particularly damning. Does the full article paint a different picture?

Again, he specifies that it is in Iraq. He recalls vivid details of the conversation but not what country it took place in? When TNR followed up, he claimed it was FOB Falcon, in Iraq. He had several chances to correct that point.


Gary: I don't know why OCSteve should be surprised at my supporting him.

It tends to unravel the space-time continuum? ;)


Jay Jerome: Does it mean you're posting from behind the dreaded Orange Curtain?

I did live in CA for a time (Monterey), liked it a lot, but not in Orange County. I get that question a lot. OC comes from Ocean City, MD - a Democratic stronghold with outliers of common sense. ;)


Steve: Were you agreeing with me, at least a little? ;)

Running around ratty, urban landscapes in altered states proved quite satisfying when I was able and inclined toward such things

i got a lot of use of of the wacky brick-prison-in-the-marsh architecture of RIT. am i in a towering and sterile planned-urban 70's development, or am i in a wild wetland, waiting for amusement in nature? quite both, my droogs and brothers. right horrorshow.

Gary: I don't know why OCSteve should be surprised at my supporting him.

It tends to unravel the space-time continuum? ;)

It's large, it contains multitudes. The fabric doesn't unravel easily.

Plug in your babelfish. Let us find sf cliches in common. ;-)

"right horrorshow."

The trick here is always to check which is the presented last chapter.

Gromit: Here's a quote from Beauchamp's article, directly following the "IED woman" incident.

"In a strange way, though, I found the
shame comforting. I was relieved to still
be shocked by my own cruelty — to still be
able to recognize that the things we soldiers found funny were not, in fact, funny."

It's not a stretch to think that "still" here means, "after having been in combat for some time".

The fact that Beauchamp moved the incident from Kuwait to Iraq belies the whole "telling as it is" appearance of his article, and it reinforces the vague feeling I got when I first read it that Beauchamp has an agenda.

But everyone's got an agenda, I suppose.

Yeah, you did. Your tone was provocative and, I would say, bordering on rude in a comment directed to a relatively long-time and respected commenter here. The posting rules clearly say "be civil." I don't think that "Or are you shooting for an accountability-free moment?" is civil or designed to elicit any kind of meaningful dialog

double-plus-ungood,

You've convinced me. My apologies for my rudeness, especially to OCSteve. And OCSteve, you've always had a free beer waiting with your name on it here. Mostly because I think you can be corrupted to the dark side of liberalism when plied with enough alcohol ;-)

I'll just be standing over here. In the corner. Feeling unwanted. Knowing no one likes me.

*Sniffle*.

(What should I ask? Favorite tv shows ever?)

Publius, I know you are already overwhelmed by the response to that jazz bleg a while back, but I still feel a need to give you one more link: jazzitude.com

It strikes me as a particularly newbie-friendly zine, with an emphasis on hip-but-accessible music, a nice balance between old and new, pure and impure, with frequent artist and subgenre overviews, and good coverage of major artists and recordings. I highly recommend that you check it out.

...and if you want a strong collection of enjoyable music, you could do worse than just buying whatever's reviewed there.

Turbulence: Mostly because I think you can be corrupted to the dark side of liberalism when plied with enough alcohol

Dude, when plied with enough alcohol I could become a socialist. ;)

Per ++ungood's comment above, I will not countenance ANY argument from ANY conservative that relies even in small part on condemning Beauchamp for mocking a disfigured woman, given the Rush Limbaugh/Michael J. Fox ugliness that they all seem suddenly to have forgotten about.

Crap. Did that work?

quite both, my droogs and brothers. right horrorshow.

DON'T TAKE THE BROWN SYNTHAMESC!

Beauchamp: debunked - for real ?

Marty Lederman on the Senate's cave-in to Bush. Sixteen Democrats voted for the White House's warrantless surveillance, including Webb and Mikulski. Apparently "we have to pass something RIGHT NOW or the terrorists will kill us!!!" still works, as it did with the PATRIOT Act rush.

You just can't get good maintenance people, anymore.

god i hate our political system. all these bums need to go, but there's no way to do it.

Giuliani/Lieberman 08, for the win.

that's my prediction.

Of the six Democrats who replaced Republicans in the Senate this year, Casey, McCaskill, and Webb voted for this abomination, while Brown, Tester, and Whitehouse voted no.

Trent Lott, despite screaming about how if we don’t pass this bill the terrorists will kill us all, couldn’t be bothered to show up to vote for it. Neither could McCain.

cleek: god i hate our political system. all these bums need to go, but there's no way to do it.

The Chinese at least came up with a way to vent your frustrations:

BEIJING -- An online game in which players can torture and kill corrupt officials that a Chinese local government set up to teach people about the perils of graft is proving a roaring success, state media said Thursday.

OCSteve, we've had a system where people can smear, discredit, and fantasize about torturing and killing government officials that the administration doesn't like for quite a while now. It's called the right-wing noise machine.

Mikulski??!?

The fix is well and truly in.

dkilmer, that reading of "still" might not be a stretch, but it's pretty far from conclusive.

As for misremembering which country the incident occurred in, that sort of thing happens all the time with memory. You might remember some details of a story quite vividly, yet get important dates and places, or even people completely wrong. Memories aren't something you put into cold storage and then access months or years later. Research has shown that memory is a continuous, active process, and that memories are continually reshaped as they are accessed.

This is what makes eyewitnesses notoriously unreliable. This phenomenon isn't a particularly good indication of an agenda.

From what I read on http://alternet.org/mediaculture/58811>alternet Mr. Matt Sanchez is not actually a trustworthy person.

[...]Sanchez has been under investigation by the Marine Corps for fraud. According to an April 1 Marine Corps Times article, Sanchez was informed in a March 22 email from Reserve Col. Charles Jones, a staff judge advocate, that he was under investigation for lying "'to various people, including but not limited to, representatives of the New York City United War Veterans Council [UWVC] and U-Haul Corporation' about deploying to Iraq at the commandant's request." The email added: "'Specifically, you wrongfully solicited funds to support your purported deployment to Iraq' by coordinating a $300 payment from the UWVC and $12,000 from U-Haul."

Interestingly, the guy also was a part-time gay prostitute. Gannon anybody?
(clarification: that is of course not condemning in itself just the cherry on the cake ;-) )

So can we all agree to throw in a gratuitous "terrorist" and "bomb" and "jihad" in otherwise ordinary emails just to give the NSA something to do?

KCinDC: It's called the right-wing noise machine.

Jeeze man – it was meant to lighten the mood. Does everything have to have a politic bent? Should I now talk about how they have to close comments at HuffPo (and other blogs) to avoid embarrassment every time a Dick Cheney health post goes up? Should we compare notes about death wishes from the left vs. the right? I don’t want to go there…


Hartmut: I’m not sure what that is all supposed to mean. To the best of my knowledge he did gay porn some years ago – he is not a prostitute. His statement on the whole thing is here: MM link but I can’t find it anywhere else.

Is all this somehow supposed to discredit his on the ground reporting from FOB Falcon?

Is all this somehow supposed to discredit his on the ground reporting from FOB Falcon?

is Beauchamp's Kuwait v Iraq thing supposed to discredit his piece in TNR ?

(CIA is me.)

cleek: Yes – I think it does anyway. Not so much discredit as add weight to the side that thinks he embellished things.


Tell you what – I’ll qualify my thoughts this way. Chances are good that no one in Beauchamp's company would support him in any way due to their own legitimate concern that they would get in trouble themselves. In the peacetime Army punishment sucks but it amounts to extra duty – loss of sleep and crap jobs. In Iraq it may amount to extra combat patrols for all I know. So I won’t say that the Army’s investigation is conclusive. Not because they didn’t try, but because it is only natural that the other hundred or so folks in his company want nothing to do with this at this point.

Prediction: Sometime in the next week or so Beauchamp will issue an official statement that he made this all up. The right-o-sphere will exalt in another victory. I won’t be among them, because the statement will be made under duress. I feel sorry for the dude at this point. I think he embellished, I think TNR made a big mistake. But if I’m right, the amount of crap this dude is getting right now is way beyond what his mistakes warrant.

So I think he was wrong, I think TNR’s credibility took a hit, but for Beauchamp himself I mostly feel sorry at this point.

To clarify – unit cohesion and teamwork are a high priority. You might think you know what peer pressure is, but you may not realize the scope of what this guy is going through right now. He is likely ostracized by the people he has to work with every day. His squad leader, platoon sergeant, First Sergeant, and CO are likely all quite pissed at him. He probably can’t function where he is, but a transfer to another unit won’t help much because his reputation will certainly precede him.

The guy is done, and I expect a transfer stateside or Germany to a quiet out of the way place.

You know my opinions on what he did, but the punishment will not fit the crime. He is toast. So I won’t be among those exulting at this new “scalp” collected by the right-o-sphere.

Lowell at Raising Kaine has posted Webb's statement about the vote (not that it explains much).

What’s up with that vote thing in the House Thursday night? Changing votes after the gavel? 215-213 for it at the gavel, 216-212 against it for a final tally? Jeeze.

"What’s up with that vote thing in the House Thursday night? Changing votes after the gavel? 215-213 for it at the gavel, 216-212 against it for a final tally? Jeeze."

The problem here, such as it may be, is that given the Republican record of behavior in the house for the decade after 1994, there's no possible Republican complaint that isn't laughable.

I happen to think that the way they completely trashed the rules, pretty much eliminating any sense of rule or law, is highly regrettable.

But they did do that, for year after year after year after decade. A bit late to complain now. Such complaints can't be other than completely hypocritical.

Gromit: True. It's a little strange to recall having the thought, "that's what combat has done to me" as part of an event that happened before one actually engaged in combat, but it's within the realm of possibility.

It's kind of like recalling having the thought, "that's what marriage has done to me" as part of something that happened before getting married but after the relationship had been going on for a while.

I'm not particularly invested in thinking that Beauchamp's a liar. But it's entirely possible that he used the "IED woman" incident and fudged the location because it strongly conveyed what he was trying to convey.

The sad thing is probably the fact that the discussion surrounding the war has become so nasty that I'm now always looking for the hidden motives of anyone who's talking about it.

Gary: there's no possible Republican complaint that isn't laughable

Really? I’m guessing you are thinking Delay and keeping the vote open for three hours until he got what he wanted. But did the Republicans ever outright reverse a vote in this way? I won’t say the Dems did it on purpose, there seems to be some confusion involved. But it seems to be pretty unprecedented. Kudos to the Dems for approving the special committee though - that tends to make me believe it was an honest mistake.

But really – can you cite an example of Republicans ever changing the vote tally (and the outcome of the vote) after the gavel?

Prediction: Sometime in the next week or so Beauchamp will issue an official statement that he made this all up.

care to put any money on that ?

cleek: $100 to the charity of your/my choice. I guess we have to define “the next week or so” as that is pretty ambiguous.

Let’s see… what I meant by “or so” was possibly more than a week but less than two. So – within 10 days? Today is Aug 4. A statement by Aug 14th? If the statement seems to be ambiguous then ObWi front-pagers decide. Proof of donation goes to CC or LJ or Hilzoy (they can already vouch that it is me).

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